CategoriesBlog Live Fit. Move.

Conquering Strenuous Exercise in a Mask

As many fitness lovers have experienced during the pandemic, exercise in a mask is possible.  Enjoyable?  Not exactly, but it’s do-able and becomes more tolerable with every workout.

Yoga, Pilates, Barre and some Strength Training workouts seem to be the mask-wearer’s preference as for the most part, the participant’s heart rate stays within manageable ranges.  But what about more intense cardio?

As Flow Fitness’s Cycle Program Director, my biggest challenge has been convincing people that they’re going to be just fine participating in my classes while wearing a mask.

Earlier in the pandemic, not a lot was known about exercising in a mask.  However, as more studies were conducted, it has been concluded that even intense exercise in a mask is not dangerous as long as the participant listens to their body. The body’s Oxygen and CO2 levels in a mask are at similar levels to those working out without masks.

We know it is safe, but how can we make it FEEL better?

The short answer is repetition (i.e. building up a tolerance to it).  The more we practice something, the more it becomes routine.  I’ll also share some of my own personal tips and tricks from teaching and taking Cycle and H.I.I.T in a mask for a few months:

Bring more than one mask!

Bring even more than two if you tend to sweat a lot.  I wear a pre and post class mask that I do not wear during the actual workout.  That way when class is over, I can switch back to my dry mask and chat with members without feeling gross.  Those who bring multiple masks are less likely to rush off and can socialize with other members and the instructor when the hard work has concluded!  Some people even bring two masks for the workout and switch halfway through to a fresh mask.  I know this sounds like a lot of masks, but it can be a game changer in making the class more enjoyable!

Own a mask that is actually made for exercising.

Not all masks are created equal when it comes to strenuous workouts.  Many established fitness apparel brands have taken the time to design masks for people who want to enjoy workouts in a gym during Covid restrictions.  Take advantage!  You would not join a class without proper equipment.  The same goes for your mask.

Ease into it

When I’m participating in a high intensity class, I push hard but I know my limits.  If it becomes hard to breathe with your mask on, simply back off.  If you’re in Cycle class, turn the resistance down.  If you’re in Team Conditioning and doing a tough cardio finisher, pace yourself if needed.  With a mask on, I’m not always achieving the power levels that I would normally maintain in Cycle and I’m okay with that.  It is important to remember that while there are restrictions, we still have a safe place to move our bodies and become stronger.

It may not be for everyone.

There are other physical barriers that may prevent some people from tolerating intense exercise in a mask, such as asthma or other chronic respiratory conditions.  If you have any concerns regarding exercising in a mask, you should absolutely consult your doctor before participating in a high intensity class.

Pacing yourself, staying consistent, and having the right mask(s) will set you up for success in conquering tough workouts during Covid restrictions!  As always, Flow trainers and instructors will be there every step of the way to encourage you and support you.


Yin Yoga vs. Yoga Flow vs. Power Yoga: What’s the Difference?

The history of yoga dates back over 5,000 years, originating in India with deeply spiritual and philosophical roots. What we see as yoga today is a conglomerate of thousands of ideas, texts, and teachers and the evolution of practices from around the world. Practicing yoga has been proven to assist with flexibility, strength, balance, and mental health, with approximately 20 million Americans participating each year. It may seem like yoga styles are all basically the same, but in reality more than a hundred different schools of yoga exist. Read up on the three main yoga styles that Flow Fitness offers, and decide for yourself which one seems right for your needs.

Image via Pixabay

Yin Yoga

Founded in the 1970s by Taoist yoga teacher Paulie Zink and based off of centuries-old techniques practiced in China and Taiwan, this style has twenty main poses, but can sometimes expand to upwards of forty. Yin yoga is a slow-paced practice that encourages holding postures for five, ten, or sometimes even up to twenty minutes. These positions are most beneficial when you relax your muscles into the pose, deepening the stretch and finding your balance. Yin yoga’s main focus is calming the mind, reducing stress, and entering the mentality of focused meditation. The movements target the body’s connective tissues in order to regulate the body’s flow of energy and promote balance and flexibility. Yin yoga is oftentimes an excellent choice for athletes and other individuals with physically active lifestyles. It also is an effective way to work through anxiety, trauma, addiction, and emotional issues because of its focus on meditation and stillness.

Flow Fitness has recently added yin yoga to our Fremont studio’s weekly class offering!
Yin Yoga – Deep Stretch with Jenelle is offered weekly on Sundays from 5:30pm to 6:30 p.m.

Yoga Flow

Also known as “Vinyasa” yoga, this style is referred to as “flow” because of how smoothly the poses run together. Yoga flow classes are one of the most popular modern styles of yoga, and you can find them at almost any studio. Classes do not have set poses, giving each teacher the unique ability to personalize their practice, sometimes moving quickly through positions, and other times maintaining a slower, steadier pace. Regardless of preference, all yoga flow instructors know that this style of practice focuses on breath synchronization. Movements between positions are matched with inhalation and exhalation, making the class an almost choreographed experience. Oftentimes yoga flow sessions are held in studios heated to around 80 or 90 degrees, which is warm enough to relax muscles, increase flexibility, and provoke detoxification (but not as hot as Bikram yoga, which is usually practiced at a steamy 104 degrees). Yoga flow welcomes all levels of experience, and encourages going at your own pace and making modifications to fit your needs. Resting in child’s pose is always an option if at anytime you need a break.

Flow Fitness has several yoga flow classes at both our Fremont studio and our South Lake Union studio.

Image via Pexels

Power Yoga

This particular type of yoga was popularized in the 1990s and marked the start of yoga being perceived as a physically intense workout rather than a purely meditative practice. It was adapted from the Ashtanga school of yoga in order to be more accessible to Western students, with less rigidity in regards to poses and more of an opportunity for instructors to personalize their class. Power yoga goes through a sequence of poses dependent on the teacher, with a quick pace and rhythm between postures. Rather than focusing on stillness and meditation, it places importance on the body and movement. Power yoga is good for strength training because the number of planks and sun salutations you go through requires you to constantly be lifting and holding your own bodyweight. Studios can also be heated like a yoga flow class based on the instructor’s preference, but either way, in power yoga muscles warm up quickly, and each position helps develop strength, alignment, and flexibility.

Flow Fitness has power yoga classes available at our Fremont studio on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 6 to 7 a.m. with Asia and Natalie.

Try out all three types and figure out your best yoga fit, but always remember to listen to your body and take time to rest. Whether you’re looking for a yoga practice that helps you destress after a long workday and calm your nerves, or wanting a more intense cardio workout, come visit the Fremont or SLU Flow Fitness center so we can help you find the class that best suits your needs.


What is Yin Yoga?

Yoga is a mainstream form of fitness and flexibility that has become a staple at most gyms and fitness studios. It’s accessible for multiple levels of fitness as well as varying degrees of knowledge and skill with the method, itself. But ‘yoga’ is a general term that can refer to a wide range of styles, including kundalini, hatha, and ashtanga yoga. Yin yoga is another style of yoga that is much less well known, yet still highly effective.

It’s lack of mainstream knowledge probably has to do with the fact that Yin yoga typically takes more time to warm up to, making it harder to incorporate into gym class offerings because beginners may be intimidated to try it.

Yin yoga was initially called “Daoist” yoga, which targets the body’s deep connective tissues and their relationship with the fascia covering the body, with the intent to regulate the body’s flow of energy.

The postures of Yin yoga are more passive, and come out to only about 40 different poses, unlike yang-like styles. One of the most unique aspects of Yin yoga, in practice, is that it’s most beneficial when you relax in the posture and soften your muscles in order to move closer to bone. Yin yoga therefore offers a far deeper access to your body, compared with the more superficial movements of yang-like yoga. Yin yoga postures are often held longer than other types, commonly 3-5 minutes. Sometimes, you might hold a posture for as much as 20 minutes!

It’s best to approach Yin yoga like you would meditation. This style of yoga is far more centered on the student’s level of intimacy with their feelings, emotions and sensations, which makes it beneficial for programs that deal with related issues such as anxiety, trauma, addictions and deep emotional pain. Yin yoga allows students greater mental stability, as well as better physical flexibility. Since joint flexibility deteriorates as we age, Yin yoga is a great way to maintain and even improve flexibility to keep your range of motion as limber as possible.

Some of the most notable benefits of Yin yoga are:

  • Balancing and relaxing the body
  • Regulating energy throughout the body
  • Increased mobility and flexibility
  • Calming the mind, reducing stress
  • Improving stamina
  • Enhancing one’s ability to cope with anxiety and stress

Flow Fitness has recently added Yin yoga to our weekly class offering! Yin Yoga – Deep Stretch with Beth is offered weekly on Sundays from 6 – 7 p.m.


Release and Restore: Tips for Resetting on Rest Days

If you are an avid athlete, you probably love reaching your goals and breaking fitness barriers. Whether that means exceeding your best run time or hitting a new PR in the weight room, many athletes have a strong drive to push themselves a little harder every day.

While achieving fitness goals is rewarding for every athlete, taking care of your body and making time to rest and reset are equally important. Use these tips to make the most of your rest days, and be sure to come by our Release and Restore class to take this practice even further!

How to Make the Most of Rest Days

Taking time to restore and reset can do your workout a world of good. Rest days need not only be a break from your typical workout, but can also be an opportunity to try new stretches, explore meditation, and more. Try a few of these rest day best practices to take care of your body and relax before your next hard workout!

Hydrate and Eat Well

Whether you are training for a big sporting event or simply relaxing after a good workout, hydration and eating well are key to making the most of your rest days.

Water helps your body detox, fosters digestion, keeps your joints healthy, and more. If you have trouble remembering to drink water during the day, consider bringing a water bottle with you to all of your daily activities to make staying hydrated easier.

In terms of eating well on rest days, be sure to get all of the macronutrients your body needs, including carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. A plate full of colors is a healthy plate, so look for opportunities to add fruits and veggies to your meal. Consider whipping up one of these balanced recipes on your day off from the gym!

Sleep In

Sleep is a key ingredient to help your body rest and reset. The average person needs about eight hours of sleep each night, but if you are an active athlete, your body may need more. If your schedule permits, set aside a little extra time for sleep on your rest days to help your body relax and rejuvenate. Taking a quick power nap in the middle of the day can also help you rest and reset!

Stretch It Out

Rest days do not necessarily mean you need to be stationary — they simply mean you should take a break from your typical high-impact workout routine. To loosen up your muscles on your rest day, consider taking a brisk walk through your local park or a leisurely swim to keep your body moving without too much stress on your muscles.

Taking advantage of a low-impact workout such as a yoga class can also help you loosen up your muscles and prevent tightness in your body. Because yoga is such a vast practice, consulting a professional about specific poses and stretches for certain muscle groups can offer many benefits. Consider checking out our Yin Yoga Deep Stretch class on Sundays at our Fremont gym to stretch it out on your rest day!

Consider Meditation and Other Relaxation Techniques

If you are an athlete who is always on the go, taking some time to ease your mind may be just the remedy that you need. Practicing mindfulness, meditation, and other relaxation techniques can help you improve productivity, reduce stress, give your mental health a boost, and more.

If you have never tried this before, consider getting started with these simple mindfulness exercises or some quick online meditation tutorials!

Check in With Your Body

Wrap up your rest day by checking in with your body. Many athletes have a habit of ignoring aches and pushing through pain. However, this is often your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong. On your rest day, make a point of listening to your body and checking in with the way you are feeling. While tightness and soreness are normal after a hard day’s workout, if you have more significant pain, it may be time to consult a professional.

At Flow Fitness, we believe in helping our members foster health, fitness, and wellness in various aspects of their lives. To learn more about making the most of your rest days, talk to our trainers about the best plan for you. You may also enjoy this article about rest periods from Flow Coach Mackennon Klink!

CategoriesBlog Live Fit.

The Biggest Mistake New Athletes Make in the Weight Room

New athletes make dozens of mistakes beginners make, and we’ve all been there. The journey from nervous newbie to seasoned vet with the physical progress to show for it comes with plenty of bumps in the road. Contrary to popular “broscience,” though, the most common mistake beginners make isn’t using the smith machine or missing their “anabolic/nutrient window” — it’s learning to be patient.

Whether you are looking to train for your favorite sport during the off season, to start competing in powerlifting or bodybuilding, or just to be able to walk up a flight of stairs without breaking a sweat, having patience is the single most significant indicator of success or failure.

Programming Flip-Flops

We’re not talking about programming a light show into the shoes you had in the ‘90s — we’re talking about using impatient, inconsistent, and self-defeating training methods. The epitome of all of these is program hopping.

If you’re going to see progress in any area, you need to be in a dedicated relationship with the training that will develop that progress. When you start jumping between programs like a kangaroo in a circus tent, you’ll be spinning your wheels plenty, but going nowhere. Program flip-flopping is bad for two reasons: First, you don’t allow yourself time to develop new motor patterns; and second, you never develop a significant enough progressive overload to challenge your body.

Movement Patterns

Borrowing Bruce Lee’s famous metaphor, “be water.” In our application, however, it’s not about fluidity in performing high-flying kicks or martial arts, but in developing the path of least resistance. Your movement patterns develop in the same way that a river carves out a path for itself.

All movement begins in the mind. From there, your central nervous system sends a series of signals throughout your body to initiate that movement. The first time you do it,  it’s sloppy. If you’ve never performed an overhead press before, you’ll be doing it with all the coordination of a baby’s first steps. The biggest difference between a toddler learning to walk and Usain Bolt are the developed motor skills.

The signal sent from your central nervous system will force its way through the movement. You won’t be graceful, but you’ll get the job done. As you continue practicing the movement, however, your body becomes more comfortable with it, developing more efficient pathways to send those neural signals through. The more you practice this movement, the more natural it becomes, just like water carving out a normalized riverbed to run along.

Progressive Overload

Progressive overload is the principle that all physical training must implement for you to make progress. Simply put, for you to become stronger, faster, or more athletic, you must continually push your muscles harder than they are used to. Usually, this means increasing the resistance you work with.

Practice Makes Perfect

You start making progress when you combine these two principles. Unless you are constantly challenging your muscles with established and efficient movement patterns, you will not see progress. Beginners often find they can make incredible gains when they first start, and then that progress slows. Becoming discouraged, they move on to a new program. What happens in these cases is that motor patterns are established, making the exercise easier, but then progress slows down because it  takes longer for the body to adapt to a challenge than it does to start learning a new movement.

When you start a program, stick to it. Making large strides can take years, and if you only look at the day-to-day, you’ll be painfully disappointed. If daily and weekly progress is your goal, you should document your progress in depth every day to see the measured difference in the numbers. Whatever you do, however, be patient, and don’t be a program hopper.

CategoriesBlog Live Fit. Move.

3 Training Techniques Every Runner Should Be Doing

Summer in the Pacific Northwest = time to get outside, right?  Except for when you can’t, because aches and pains are getting in your way, or worse: you’re sidelined by injury.  How can you stay outdoors, do everything you love to do and potentially reduce the occurrence of injury? Easy.  Train inside to maximize running time outside.

And by training inside,  I’m not talking about running on a treadmill or hitting the elliptical.  Those are two very familiar pieces of equipment, and have their place in a training program (maybe) but in order to stay in prime movement shape you’ll want to get a little uncomfortable and hit these three areas (at least):

1)  Explore all the planes.  There are three planes of motion: sagittal (forward or backward:running), transverse (rotational: golfing/twisting), and frontal (side to side: jumping jacks).  Most of us move through the majority of our days in the sagittal plane.  As runners, that’s our area of strength – but in order to be truly strong, it is imperative to move in different planes of motion.  Side shuffle, skaters, twisting, lunging diagonally, and more. Classes that have a variety of movement are great ways to break your plane. Cross training on the bike or the elliptical or stair machine is not, as it’s moving in the same plane as running.  Your Challenge:  learn about the planes of motion and aim to move in a different one this week.

2)  Strengthen your backside.  We are a quad dominant society, spending most of our days squashing our backsides by sitting.  Many injuries originate in the hips, and get you in the knees. Strength training not only makes your stronger, it also increases joint stability, which can reduce repetitive stress injuries.  Your Challenge:  Squat.  Deadlift. Do some clam shells and leg swings.  Strengthen that hip girdle, core and those glutes.  You won’t be sorry.

3)   JUMP, HOP, AND SKIP.  Frog jumps, jump squats, skipping, high-knees = plyometric training. Plyometrics can improve your running economy. When your foot lands with each running stride, your tendons and muscles store elastic energy, which can be utilized for the subsequent push off the ground. The better you utilize this energy, the better your running economy becomes.  Jumping/skipping/hopping are good and good for you.  Your Challenge:  add some play to your workout this week.  Plyometrics aren’t easy, and are not always fun – but they can do wonders for your ability to move.

Choose one of these areas (or challenges) once a week.  Strength training in many different forms results in stronger joints, better efficiency and a longer time to exhaustion. Put simply, you’ll be able to run faster, longer and stronger.

Now get outside!

CategoriesBlog Move.

Periodization Matters – Find Out Why

An essential element of training for any serious athletic competition, periodization is “an organized approach to training that involves progressive cycling of various aspects of a training program during a specific period of time.” It allows for customized, systematic training programming that cycles progress with competition preparation.

In practice, periodization is the program design strategy that balances training volume, intensity, and specificity.

This is all just a fancy way of saying that you have an intelligent plan to maximize your training progress without being run ragged come game day.

How Periodization Works

To excel at any physical activity, you need to have an established level of fitness already. Whether you are running marathons, bodybuilding, playing soccer, or wrestling, you must establish an athletic baseline before you can move forward.

Beyond that general physical competence, when trying to excel in a sport, you must train specific skills and movements. This is the principle of specificity. It goes beyond establishing general fitness in an individual and trains them for their specific sport — boxers box, swimmers swim, and cyclists cycle.

Periodization effectively cycles you through periods of training that touch on each of these aspects, improving them one of these aspects after another and tapering down for competition before ramping back up to improve performance.

Six Steps to Success with Periodization


Whether this is the beginning of a periodized cycle or just coming off of the sixth step, the first phase, preparation, is when you gradually initiate a controlled training routine. For exercise novices, this will slowly build up your fitness with moderate-duration, low-intensity workouts. More advanced athletes come into preparation after a rest phase to begin prepping for the upcoming competition season.

The preparation phase usually involves comfortable exercises such as swimming, hiking, and cycling. This is also when you plan out your season, marking down your competition goals.

Building a Base

The real work begins in the second phase, when you will be improving your overall strength levels and building up your cardiovascular system. This phase can last for several months, and often that much time is required to build significant strength gains. If you have any glaring weaknesses, this is an excellent time to directly address them — whether they have to do with balance, flexibility, or a poor diet.

Sport-Specific Training

Specificity comes into play in the third phase, during which you begin simulating competition conditions and practicing skills specific to your sport. Because you will have already established a fitness foundation in the first and second phases, you can effectively focus on strategy and technique without being limited by your body.

Winding Down

You should start winding down one to two weeks before a major competition. At this point, you will decrease your training volume to be ready to go 100 percent in competition. All exercise physically breaks down muscle tissue with tiny tears in the fibers. Resting allows those tears to heal, allowing you to go 100 percent in competition. Tapering usually involves cutting your training down by 80 to 90 percent, but this varies wildly based on your sport, as does how many weeks you spend at a reduced training volume.


Timing your tapering well leaves you fresh and ready to go come game day, providing a one- to two-week window during which you can perform to your fullest.


Going 100 percent takes its toll on your body. Depending on your fitness level, sport, and how you prepare for your sport, you may need anywhere from a week to several months of recovery time after competition. You don’t need to completely shut down physically, but you do need to rest, and this can provide a great opportunity to casually cross-train in other sports for fun.


Does This Apply to You?

That depends on your goals. Each training movement and strategy is a tool. While every toolbox should have a wrench in it, a wrench isn’t going to drive nails for you. If general fitness is your objective, and not prepping for getting on stage or running a race, periodization may not offer you what you need. For help tailoring a program to your specific targets, speak with one of our trainers today.

CategoriesBlog Live Fit.

Rep Volume and Why It Matters

Burning fat, building muscle, or getting stronger — most athletic and aesthetic goals fall into or combine these three categories. Whatever your goals, however, resistance training is a must. But that doesn’t mean 500 curls with the 0.5-pound pink dumbbells off in the corner. It means an intelligently planned program that includes a rep scheme that dictates how much volume you train with for each exercise and that deliberately pushes you just to the point of failure.

That was a lot of jargon. Let’s break it down:

  • Resistance training:
    • Another term for strength training, resistance training is “a form of physical activity that is designed to improve muscular fitness by exercising a muscle or a muscle group against external resistance.”
  • Aesthetic lifting:
    • Typically associated with bodybuilding or modeling, aesthetic goals are focused on sculpting the body to a specific design.
  • Rep schemes:
    • Reps and sets are the backbone of any program. Every set has a specific rep (repetition) range in it. So, if you have a program that requires you to perform 3×5 squats, you will be doing three sets with five squats in each set. If a program has you doing 4×6, you will be performing four sets of squats with six repetitions per set. You rest between each completed working set.
  • Volume:
    • Volume is how much work you do. It is the total amount of weight moved over each rep of every set. If your squatting rep scheme  is 4×10 at 315 pounds, your volume for that particular exercise is 12,600 pounds.
  • Working sets:
    • Working sets are different from your warm-up sets. Any physical activity, be it running, lifting weights, boxing, or playing guitar, requires that you warm up before you can safely and effectively go full speed. Working sets are those included in your program as opposed to the preliminary lightweight repetitions intended to “wake your muscles up.”
  • Point of failure:
    • When your body simply will not go any further, you’ve reached your point of failure. If you can successfully do 20 pushups before your technique begins to degrade, then your point of failure for pushups is 20 reps. Only when pushing your limits does your body begin to adapt to the stress, so that you can eventually surpass those limits.

If this were the end of it, you might have a convincing case for those plastic 0.5-pound pink weights off in the corner, but it’s not. The body adapts to the type of stress you place it under. If you challenge the maximum amount of weight you can carry, it will adapt with gains in strength. If you challenge how many repetitions you can perform, it will adapt to be able to perform more repetitions. These physical adaptations show themselves in different ways. Increases in muscle size are referred to as hypertrophy, and do not directly translate into increases in strength. Similarly, increases in strength do not translate into massive differences in muscle size. Muscle size does increase with strength-focused resistance training, but at a much lower rate than if you were training specifically for hypertrophy.

Controlling your rep volume allows you to deliberately manipulate how your body adapts to the stress you place on it. This way, you can control whether you maximize strength gains, muscle size, conditioning, or a balance of all three.

Where exactly your volume and rep scheme should fall for your goal varies according to several schools of thought, but a few proven standards have stood out for providing solid results.

Getting Stronger

If you want to get stronger, you need to give your body a reason to get stronger. Performing too many reps will detract from the total amount of weight you’re moving per rep. Rep schemes of 3×3 and 3×5 tend to maximize strength gains.

Building Muscle

For building muscle and increasing size, like a model or bodybuilder, you want to do higher-volume work. This means using less weight, even though the only way to reliably get stronger is to lift heavy weight.

Look at it this way: The person who overhead presses 185 pounds with a rep scheme of 3×3 achieves a total volume of 1,665 pounds. The person who overhead presses 135 pounds with a rep scheme of 4×8 achieves a volume of 4,320 pounds.

The first person will make more progress in strength, but the second person will develop muscle size far more quickly.

Establish Your Goal and Design a Program That Will Help You Reach It

That mouthful of a header says exactly what you need to do. Every exercise and detail about how you approach it is a tool you can use to achieve a specific goal. If you want more defined muscles, increase your volume; if you want to get stronger, regularly challenge how much weight you can move with strict form. In either case, consistency is key. Keep grinding away, and you’ll get where you want to be.

CategoriesBlog Nourish.

Understanding Fats

Wrapping up the unveiling of understanding basic nutrition, we’re completing the macronutrient trifecta with a practical overview of dietary fats. Proteins, carbohydrates, and fats are all essential to building and maintaining a healthy and resilient body. Having an understanding of what each does for you is a powerful tool in accomplishing your physical goals, as well as maintaining both physical and emotional health.

The human body is not a mysterious black-box, but a regular machine that with the appropriate tools (applied knowledge) can be manipulated into building the desired results.

In popular portrayal, fat is seen as a dietary boogeyman. The truth of the matter is that fat is an essential macronutrient that serves vital functions in our bodies, keeping us alive. We’ll discuss those roles below, as well as how to establish how much you should be eating to reach your goals.

Fat’s Role in the Body

The Hard Facts

  • 1 gram of fat contains 9 calories.
  • 1 pound of fat/lipid contains 3,500 calories of energy.
  • There are 2 essential dietary fatty acids:
    • Linoleic acid
    • Linolenic acid
  • Fats are essential for the breakdown and absorption of vitamins A, D, E, and K in the body.
  • The ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) recommends that the average person’s diet should consist of 20-30% fat, balancing saturated, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated fats.


Where proteins and carbohydrates only have 4 calories per gram, fats have more than twice that amount with 9 calories per gram.

A single pound of body fat is equal to 3,500 calories of energy. Consider how many calories you burn jogging on the treadmill in one hour. You may be able to reach 200 at a moderate pace. To burn one pound of fat jogging at this rate would take roughly 17.5 hours. This obstacle, along with the fact that muscle consumes calories even at rest, is why weight training to develop muscle is incorporated into the majority of most weight loss programs.

Dietary requirements that are labelled essential are those that the body cannot synthesize itself and must be gained through the diet, just like the 9 essential amino acids that are used to construct proteins. Linoleic and linolenic acids are both considered essential to the human diet.

Linoleic acids and linolenic acids are both found in plant based foods. Your body uses these to build omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are used in all tissues in the body.  A deficiency in linoleic acid can lead to reduced growth rates, abnormalities in the liver and kidneys, weakened immune functions, depression, and dry skin.

Various minerals and vitamins that are needed for your body to perform essential functions as well as regulate hormone production are fat-soluble. That means that they can only be broken down and absorbed in the presence of fats.

Saying that a diet consists of 20-30% fat means that 20-30% of the calories you take in per day come from fat. This has to do with balancing your macronutrients to ensure you get the most from everything you eat, that you get everything you need to eat, but that you do not overeat and take in too many excess calories.

Practical Tips

You could probably eat more fat to improve your health. Not all foods are equal, but by no stretch is a piece of pie going to kill you. With that said, there are some solid go-to sources out there you can include in your diet that will provide plenty of linoleic and linolenic acid that will keep you fueled up and feeling good.

  • Dark Chocolate
  • Cheese
  • Avocados
  • Fatty Fish (salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines, herring, etc).
  • Whole Eggs
  • Chia Seeds
  • Nuts
  • Coconuts and/or coconut oil
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Full-fat yogurt

Whether you’re hoping to be the 2030 World’s Strongest Man, are training for your first marathon, or just want an extra skip in your step walking down the street, keeping a balanced diet is an essential tool to reach your goals. Once you have the know-how, it comes naturally, so break off a piece of chocolate and enjoy.

To learn how to calculate your macronutrient balance, reference the “Balancing your Macronutrients” article listed just below.


The other articles in this series include:
Balancing your Macronutrients

Understanding Carbohydrates

Understanding Protein